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Opinion: Is the Volkswagen Golf R the ‘new Cosworth’?

Volkswagen Golf R

Search for ‘Golf R stolen’ on Google News and you’ll be presented with some grim stories. These aren’t exactly tales of the unexpected – the hot Golf has been a target for many years – but it’s the rate at which the cars are being stolen that’s most alarming.

Many are stolen from driveways in the middle of the night, with owners becoming the latest victims of the keyless theft epidemic. Even more chilling is the fact that some thieves are breaking into homes to grab the keys.

What’s the appeal, aside from the fact that the Volkswagen Golf is worryingly simple to steal? Put simply, the Golf R blends in. Plus it’s a very easy car to drive fast, with plenty of power and four-wheel-drive traction.

For armed robberies, ram-raiding and drug trafficking, the Golf R is the perfect vehicle. To passers-by, it looks like an ordinary Golf, but it packs enough punch to outrun the police if the thieves are caught in the act. Stick a pair of fake number plates on a Golf R and the criminals can move about undetected for weeks.

Last night, Harry Metcalfe tweeted a list of stolen vehicles in the Cotswolds area. Of the 32 cars on the list, 11 are Volkswagen Golf R hatchbacks or estates. That’s a third.

Metcalfe asked if the Golf R is “the new Ford Sierra Cosworth when it comes to nickability”, which is a fair question.

Like the Golf R, the ‘Cossie’ was stolen in large numbers and became the ram-raiders vehicle of choice in the 80s and 90s. The Sierra RS Cosworth was still being used as a getaway vehicle as recently as 2003.

There was a time when the RS Cosworth was virtually uninsurable. Park one outside your house and there’d be a good chance it would be gone in the morning. Some owners were followed home, with the thieves returning in the dead of the night once they knew where the car was parked overnight.

Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

It was a similar story for the Escort RS Cosworth. In common with the Sierra, its door locks were as useful as an umbrella in a blizzard, and many were stolen for some Roxette-inspired playtime. Jeremy Clarkson famously owned one and, although this might be an urban myth, I’m pretty sure he was quoted £20,000 to insure it.

What is true is the fact that he opened his front door one morning to find that somebody had half-inched the rear wing. Ford made the ‘Aero Pack‘ a delete option in 1993 – not that many owners chose to order their Cossie without the body furniture.

Few cars can boast a 20-page thread on Pistonheads entitled ‘Stolen Ford Cosworth stories’.

‘Secure your driveway’

Fast forward to 2019 and it’s easy to draw comparisons between the Cossies of the past and the Golf R of the present. Only last month, police in the North West advised Golf owners to review their home security. “Just to reiterate, we have seen a recent pattern of suspicious activity, attempt burglaries and burglaries at addresses with a Volkswagen Golf on the drive,“ the police said in a message.

“If you have a Golf, please review your home security, secure your driveway if possible. Check your CCTV and security lights work.“

Scary times if you’re a Volkswagen Golf R owner. Would you consider selling yours to buy something less likely to be stolen? Let us know in the comments section.

The real cars of Le Mans 66

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

With Le Mans 66 opening in cinemas, the famous story of Ford’s triumph over Ferrari in the 24-hour race will be further immortalised in popular culture. It’s a rare treat for racing and motoring enthusiasts to see a movie where cars are the stars.

And if you can get to Los Angeles before January 19 2020, you could see them in person at the world-renowed Petersen Automotive Museum.

Winning numbers

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

Two Ferraris featured in the film will be on display at LA’s Petersen Automotive Museum in January, as a part of the ‘Winning Numbers’ exhibit. The 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB SEFAC and 1957 Ferrari 625/250 TR will be joined by a Ford GT40 Mk3, the first Shelby Cobra from 1962 and a 1952 Ferrari 212/225 Barchetta. We start with the Ferraris…

Ferrari 250 SWB SEFAC

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

The 250 Short Wheel Base is an integral part of Ferrari’s road and race history. Affectionately known as the ‘hot rods’, the SEFAC 250 SWB Competizione racers were made from thinner alloy and produced more than 300hp.

The car on display at the Petersen brought home a GT class win for Ferrari at Le Mans in 1961 and finished third overall. It’s fair to say this car is a building block of the Ferrari Le Mans legend, one with which Ford was so determined to grapple.

The car is owned by Petersen founding chairman Bruce Meyer, who loaned it to the Le Mans 66 production team. Meyer bought it in 2010.

Ferrari 625 TRC

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

The other movie star car is a Ferrari 625 TRC Spyder by Scaglietti. Unlike the 250 SWB SEFAC, which is a GT racer, the TRC is a sports prototype. It came about right at the start of Ferrari’s era of dominance at Le Mans. The marque took outright wins from 1960 to 1965. The events of 1966’s race are, of course, the subject of the film.

While not a Le Mans winner itself, this 625 is an integral part of this story. It was raced in 1962 by none other than Ken Miles, star character of Le Mans 66, played by Christian Bale. He won his first race in the car, in Santa Barbara.

It’s appearance in Le Mans 66 must have been something of a trip down memory lane. Bruce Meyer bought the car in 2006.

Shelby Cobra

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

Matt Damon stars opposite Christian Bale in Le Mans 66, playing a young Caroll Shelby. He was instrumental in developing the GT40 to a state where it could legitimately take on Ferrari at Le Mans. Shelby had proven himself with his work on the AC Cobra.

Famous now, the Shelby Cobra was an experiment back in 1962 A Shelby-tuned Ford V8 was added to a small British roadster called the AC Ace, along with wide wheelarches and fat tyres.

The 1962 car on display at the Petersen is the very first production-specification, competition-ready car produced by Shelby. It’s also part of the Bruce Meyer collection.

Ford GT40 Mk3

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

The story culminates with the victory of the Ford GT40 over Ferrari at Le Mans, the American marque taking over the podium with a 1-2-3 finish. It’s only right that an example should feature in the display at the Petersen.

This is a road-going Mk3 from 1967. It differs from the 1966 cars most obviously at the front, with more bulbous lights for road use. Other changes include more space for luggage, movement of the gear shifter to the middle, plus a de-tuned power output of 310hp.

Just seven Mk3 GT40s were made, of which one is on display at the Petersen. The car’s significantly modified looks supposedly put off some buyers, who wanted something resembling the triumphant racers.

Ferrari 212 225 Barchetta

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

This is a very significant car in the story of Ford taking on Ferrari, in spite of being built 14 years before Ford’s Le Mans win.

Henry Ford’s relationship with Ferrari became obsessive over time. Before having his takeover offer turned down, however, he was like any other fan. This 212 225 was a special order by FoMoCo for Henry Ford II, used as his personal car.

It’s said the diminutive Barchetta served as inspiration for a great many design cues that appeared on the Ford Thunderbird in 1955.

Ford v Ferrari

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

“The story of Ford’s triumph over Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans will be told for generations,” said Terry L. Karges, executive director at the Petersen Museum. “We’re excited to see the film, but we’re most excited to offer fans of the movie an opportunity to see the cars that will be in the film and learn about other vehicles that are pivotal to the story.”

Ford teases 2020 Bronco SUV with wild off-road racer

Ford Bronco R teases 2020 truck

One of 2020’s most hotly-anticipated cars is the new Ford Bronco. Now, Ford has previewed the upcoming model with a Bronco R racer – and revealed the official Bronco logo.

As motoring comebacks go, the return of the Bronco is up there with reviving the Toyota Supra and Land Rover Defender. The last Bronco went out of production in 1996, after a 31-year run. It’s one of Ford’s most iconic models and fans have struggled to let go.

Finally, in 2017, Ford gave in, announcing at the Detroit Auto Show that it was developing a new Bronco. Alhough dealers won’t see cars until later next year, Ford has begun the teaser campaign.

Ford Bronco R teases 2020 truck

The Bronco R’s first job is heading to the Baja Peninsula for the famous 1,000-mile race, which a Bronco won 50 years ago in 1969. Shelby Hall, granddaughter of Rod Hall, who took the win in 1969, will be piloting the car during its attempt.

Hip to be square

Silhouette race cars are a great way of teasing what coming models will be like, without giving too much away. Nonetheless, we can expect the Bronco to look as it should: squat, squared off and thick-jawed.

Ford says the racer gives ‘proportion hints of what enthusiasts can expect to see when the future Bronco makes its world premiere next spring’. On the inside, the ‘simple surfaces of the instrument panel’ are a nod to the first-generation Bronco.

Ford Bronco R teases 2020 truck

Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product development officer, says “It also provides an authentic test bed to demonstrate our upcoming Bronco’s desert racing capability and durability”.

The Bronco R racer has been a fast-paced project for Ford. Only since July has chief designer Paul Wraith been working with his small team to dress this one-off prototype. The production car will be revealed in the spring, with deliveries later in 2020.

Fast Ford legends: four classic Escorts up for auction

Fast Ford Escort sale NEC Classic

If your thing is classic Ford Escorts, the Silverstone Auctions sale at next month’s NEC Classic Motor Show includes a Mk1 RS1600, two RS2000s and an RS1600i. 

The most valuable car is the 1972 Mk1 RS1600. In light blue, it’s one of just 1,137 built. Its original BDA engine is effectively a de-tuned Formula 3 single-seat racer unit. It’s had just four owners from new and covered just under 8,000 miles. Just restored, it’s estimated to sell for between £58,000 and £68,000.

Heroes of the 1980s

Fast Ford Escort sale NEC Classic

Then there are two 1980 cars. Both are RS2000 Customs with ‘droop snoots’. One comes in a very 1980s colour: Cordoba Beige. It’s covered a total of 34,000 miles, of which just 1,500 occurred during the past 27 years.

Described as a ‘timewarp car’, coming from storage, it’s expected to pull in between £34,000 and £45,000.

Fast Ford sale NEC Classic

The second 1980 car is in more desirable Venetian Red. This car is an award winner, having taken first place at the RS Owners’ Club Lakes Tour in 2017. With a fresh restoration, it’s expected to achieve between £38,000 and £44,000.

The last car marks the crossover point for the Escort – from rear- to front-wheel-drive. This 1983 Sunburst Red RS1600i comes from a well-known RS collection. It’s no understatement to say this is one of the best examples in existence. Having driven just 700 miles in the last 16 years, it has covered 34,700 miles in total. With lots of history, it’s estimated at between £30,000 and £40,000.

Fast Ford sale NEC Classic

“These Fast Fords are very popular and when exceptional cars come to market there always tends to be a frenzy around them,” said Joe Watts of Silverstone Auctions.

“We are very lucky to have these cars in the auction at the same time. It gives you a great idea on how the cars developed over the 10 years in which they span.

“All of them are just in fabulous condition and come with their own personal history.”

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Ford GT review: a Le Mans racer with number plates

Ford GT

Ford v Ferrari, a new docudrama starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, debuts in cinemas soon. It retells one of the most celebrated stories in motorsport: how Henry Ford II tried to buy Ferrari, was rudely snubbed by Enzo, then enacted his revenge on the racetrack. Ford’s weapon of choice was the GT40 – so-called because it was just 40 inches tall – and it went on to utterly dominate endurance racing.

Success for the GT40 took time. At Le Mans in 1964, all three cars failed to finish. The following year, Ford suffered the same fate. But an updated MkII model came good in 1966, with a legendary 1-2-3 finish in the 24-hour race. Ferrari’s 330 P4 prototypes were nowhere to be seen. Incredibly, Ford would win Le Mans four times in a row, from 1966 to 1969, cementing the GT40’s near-mythical status and inspiring Hollywood to tell its tale.

Read more Motoring Research reviews FIRST on City AM

The story doesn’t end there, though. Fifty years after its first historic victory, Ford returned to Le Mans in 2016 with a new GT (not christened ‘GT44’, despite being four inches taller) and won the LMGTE Pro class. Job done, you might think, but unlike the original GT40, this car has another mission to accomplish: taking on Ferrari on the road. That’s where I come in.

Ford GT

OK, so I didn’t drive the GT on the road. Ford only has two press cars in Europe and didn’t want either reconfigured by an over-excited hack confusing the M6 with the Mulsanne Straight. Instead, I was let loose on M-Sport’s new test-track in the Lake District. As the firm behind Ford’s WRC rally cars, M-Sport knows how to design a tortuously twisty loop of tarmac. Whether such a circuit suits a barely-disguised Le Mans racer is another matter. Oh, did I mention it was raining?

In the metal (sorry, carbon fibre), the GT looks stone-cold sensational, the voluptuous curves of the GT40 fortified by slash-cut intakes and aggressive aero. The rear view – past two afterburner tailpipes, over the transparent engine cover and through diverging rear buttresses – is like nothing else. In radiant ‘Triple Yellow’ with nose-to-tail racing stripes, it makes brightens up even a damp day in Cumbria.

I lift the scissor-style door and slide over a wide sill. Headroom feels tight with a crash helmet on and the bucket seat doesn’t move; you pull a strap to slide the pedals instead. Ford anoraks will spot the infotainment screen from a Fiesta, but that’s your lot for luxury – there are no cupholders and no carpets. No matter: this car is for driving, and its suede-wrapped wheel and anodised shift paddles feel superb.

Ford GT

In place of a good ol’ V8, the latest GT packs a downsized 3.5-litre Ecoboost V6, but what it lacks in cubic inches is amply compensated for by twin turbos and a dry weight of 1,385kg (scarcely more than a new Ford Focus). With 656hp coursing through its carbon fibre rear wheels, it scrabbles for traction in first, second and third gears, but feels brutally quick. It’s also fiercely loud: not sonorous like a Ferrari, but industrial and raw like a race car.

It responds like a race car, too. Anti-lag technology keeps the thrust coming, while the dual-clutch gearbox never pauses for breath. Its suspension is taut and tied-down, its steering telepathically direct. Switch into Track mode and the whole car drops by 50mm, but even in Normal it feels fiercely focused. However, while its sheer speed intimidates, its balanced, cohesive chassis does not. By the time my brief session comes to an end, I’m convinced I could win Le Mans.

Price: £450,000

0-62mph: 2.8sec 

Top speed: 216mph

CO2 G/KM: N/A

MPG combined: 17.0

This review was originally published in City AM.

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Ford launches ‘Charging Solutions’ system for electric cars

Ford Charging Solutions ecosystem

Ford has launched a range of electric car charging equipment and software. The company claims it is ‘putting to bed’ concerns around EV charging that current and prospective owners may have.

The arrival of the Ford Charging Solutions system follows a similar announcement by Volkswagen last month.

Ford Charging Solutions ecosystem

A new Connected Wallbox makes up only part of what Ford calls its ‘Charging Solutions ecosystem’. It can deliver five times the quantity and speed of charge that a domestic plug socket offers. This means ‘customers can be sure their Ford electric vehicle will fully recharge overnight’. Standard on all Ford electric cars will be the Ford Home Charge Cable, which plugs in like any other gadget.

Next is the FordPass connectivity system. It includes an on-board modem and app with access to the growing Ionity public EV charging network. The app goes beyond the UK, too, with a total of 125,000 charging locations across 21 countries included.

Ionity chargers that manage up to 150kW are currently being installed, with 400 expected to be in ‘key locations’ across Europe by the end of 2020. The app also allows you to monitor your car’s charge status, as well as plan routes around stops at network chargers.

“One of the biggest hold-ups for customers considering an electric vehicle has been the fear of running out of power or the inability to find a place to plug in,” said Ted Cannis, Ford’s director of global electrification.

Ford Charging Solutions ecosystem

“By offering industry-leading charging access, including the largest network of public charging stations among any automaker, we are dismantling those barriers, allowing more customers to confidently enjoy the benefits of owning an electric vehicle.”

Of course there’s no point talking up charging if you haven’t a Ford-badged vehicle to charge. That’s where the new ‘Mustang-inspired’ electric SUV comes in. It’s now confirmed as having a targeted WLTP electric range of 370 miles. Ford says 10 minutes hooked up to an Ionity 150kW station would give the electric SUV 57 miles of range.

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect review: van meets hot hatch

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect review

I don’t remember the last small Ford van I drove with a great deal of fondness. It was around the turn of the millennium, and the van – a white Ford Escort – must have been four, maybe five years old.

It was a rental van, so the years hadn’t been kind to it. Forget ‘one careful owner’, this thing had endured a lifetime at the hands of wreckless renters with as much mechanical sympathy as Ken or Ryu when faced with a Lexus LS400.

Not that a pair of streetfighters would ever mistake an Escort van for a Lexus. Besides, this battered Ford had taken more punches than Kristian Laight and more kicks than an expectant mum. I suspect it wasn’t long for this world.

Built in Spain, enhanced in Wales

A rubbish Escort van isn’t the best introduction to the MS-RT Transit Connect, but it was my single point of reference as I ventured into Wales to the firm’s certified facility located in an old British Nylon Spinners factory on the outskirts of Pontypool.

This is where standard Ford Transit vans and the smaller Transit Connect arrive to allow the Welsh wizards to weave some motorport magic. The vans enter as workhorses, but leave as thoroughbreds. Or something.

The Ford Transit Connect is the latest van to go under the MS-RT knife, as the company seeks to build on the success of the hugely popular MS-RT Transit Custom. The formula is the same, but the Connect is aimed at a different clientele. Think mobile valeters, mechanics and posh couriers.

But equally, you could see the MS-RT Transit Connect jostling for position outside a surfer’s shack in Cornwall or at the foot of a mountain bike trail in the Lake District. Because lifestyle, innit.

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect leather seats

There’s an increasingly thin line between Ford’s cars and its range of light commercial vehicles. Assuming you can live with having just three seats, a Transit Connect 200 L1 – the version used for the MS-RT makeover – could make for an extremely practical and efficient daily-driver.

‘What will the neighbours think?’, might be a question you’re pondering. We can’t have the yummy mummies of Costa and dashing dads of Waitrose thinking we’ve taken up labouring for a living, dahr-ling.

Nonsense. These things are in high demand, to the extent that some chancers are producing knock-off kits and dressing them up as authentic MS-RT items. Take it from me, they’re not the real thing. It takes 75 to 78 hours for each Transit Connect to pass through the various rooms of a famous old building that once posted the largest factory floor in Europe.

Plastic, fantastic

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect road test

Having failed to source a reliable supplier in Eastern Europe, the guys at MS-RT took it upon themselves to pioneer the production of injected-moulded plastic used to create the exterior body styling.

The front bumper, grilles, front diffuser, side skirts, rear diffuser and spoiler are all created in-house before being hand-finished, painted and installed by a small but dedicated team. Crucially, they’re built to withstand the same level of abuse as a standard Ford van and are designed for ease of removal at a Ford dealer.

The result is something that looks fresh out of the Ford factory. It’s little wonder, then, that Ford is happy to list the MS-RT option in its brochure, while orders have to be placed via one of a select number of official Ford Transit centres.

Still unconvinced? Maybe the fact that MS-RT is the first European firm to achieve Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) status will change your mind. Having seen the process for myself, I can assure you these vans bear close scrutiny. It’s a proper job, as they might say in my part of the world.

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect rear

In addition to the body makeover, the Transit Connect gets a quad stainless steel sports exhaust system, 18-inch OZ Racing alloy wheels, Michelin tyres and MS-RT badges. Bronze alloys are available if you’re brave enough.

On the inside, the steering wheel is removed to be refinished, while the seats are wrapped in hand-crafted suede and nappa leather. It’s like having a Transit Connect Vignale without the concierge. Or the extravagant price tag.

It’s £23,995 plus VAT, in case you were wondering, which is around £5,000 extra on top of the standard Transit Connect Limited. Not bad, especially considering the time and money spent designing, building and installing the bespoke parts.

There aren’t many options, but you can order a Maxhaust exhaust system, black exhaust tips and a full carbon steering wheel. You can also go a bit lairy with the racing decals, if you like that kind of thing. Personally, I think less is more.

Express delivery?

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect profile

“Cor, mister, I bet that goes really fast,” might be a common question you’ll be asked as you fill up with diesel or unload your garden rubbish at the tip. It’ll top 100mph, so it’s plenty quick enough, but MS-RT hasn’t touched the engine.

Which means it’s powered by the same Euro 6.2 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel engine producing 120hp and 199lb ft of torque. A six-speed manual comes as standard, but you can order an eight-speed automatic for a touch more torque. You can expect to achieve around 55mpg if you ain’t misbehavin’.

It all feels very car-like. Every MS-RT van is based on the Limited trim level with a few optional extras, so aside from the bulkhead behind the seat and the slightly iffy acoustics in the cabin, it feels every inch a Ford car.

There’s a heated driver’s seat, air conditioning, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control, reversing camera, Ford Sync 3 with voice control, heated windscreen and LED loadspace lighting. You also get bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights. This van wants for nothing.

The car-like vibes continue once you’re on the move, with the motorsport-enhanced Transit Connect dealing with the rutted roads of Wales with aplomb. There’s very little in the way of wind and road noise, while the six-speed gearbox is a delight to use. It’s genuinely good fun to drive.

Cooler than a crossover?

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect steering wheel

There’s something mildly amusing about pushing a bright red van to its limits on some of the best roads in Wales. Insert your own Postman Pat gag here.

I’m not saying it turns in like a Fiesta ST, but it feels like a fast Ford, and that’s high praise. The steering is nicely weighted, the gear stick is well positioned for quick changes, and the low- to mid-range torque makes overtaking a doddle.

Everything in context – this remains a diesel van with a 602kg payload and a focus on delivering stuff – but it has the potential to put a smile on your face at the end of a long working day. And that’s as much a testament to Ford’s engineers as it is to the team at MS-RT.

It feels a bit naughty, slightly unhinged and maybe a little anti-establishment. Stick two fingers up at convention and do your own thing.

Cooler than a crossover, more space than an estate car and – in my opinion – better resolved than the Transit Custom, it has banished my memories of that tired Escort once and for all. I’m not sure I’ll ever buy one, but I’ll give a knowing nod to anyone who does.

Chef uses Ford Raptor to create edible dust dish

Ford Ranger Raptor chef foraging

In the weird and wonderful world of bleeding-edge cooking, the latest trend is burnt foods and wild ingredients. Wild ingredients mean that chefs need to go out foraging to find the bits you won’t find at your local supermarket.

To that end, Mr Ramsay might want to exchange his LaFerrari for a Ford Ranger Raptor. Which is precisely what Neil Rankin of the Temper Soho restaurant just did.

There can’t be many other cars he could have managed it in, either, given the lengths he went to in finding the special ingredients.

Ford Ranger Raptor chef foraging

“As a chef it’s easy to get claustrophobic in your own kitchen,” said Neil Rankin. 

“You can become very blinkered in what your suppliers give you, or what your repertoire is, and become disconnected from that which is natural.

“A very special thing in this country, in any country, is its natural ingredients, and it’s those sorts of things that tend to work the best.”

To the ends of the Earth

Ford Ranger Raptor chef foraging

Well, to the ends of Cornwall. But that is the end of the Earth, isn’t it? Seven ingredients were collected from hard-to-reach Cornish spots.

Bell heather, sea aster beans, pepper dulse seaweed and rock samphire wild plants were collected from remote spots. All collected in the Ranger Raptor, boldly going where no car has gone before.

Ford Ranger Raptor chef foraging

The result of all these exotic ingredients is burnt sea dust, to be served alongside 60-day, dry-aged, rib-eye Hereford beef. It’ll be available to eat at the Temper Soho restaurant for the next three months.

You can watch the chef take Ford’s challenge in the marque’s new Eat My Dust series. Over five videos it follows Rankin, among other chefs, on their journey off the beaten path, to find the foods the supermarkets don’t stock.

2019 Ford Puma ST-Line

Opinion: the internet is wrong about the new Ford Puma

2019 Ford Puma ST-Line

It’s a good job the new Ford Puma cannot read. If the internet is anything to go by, the ‘not a coupe’ is doomed to failure before it hits the streets in January.

“It’s a fat Fiesta on stilts,” cries one commenter. “What a pathetic waste of a model,” says another. “The new Ford Puma is nothing like a Ford Puma,” bemoaned a ‘Welsh Brummie’ on Twitter, earlier.

Only it is a Ford Puma – it says as much on the boot lid. And, like it or not, Ford can do whatever it likes with a name from its back catalogue. 

Does it really matter? More than two decades have passed since the Ford Puma coupe arrived in all its Steve McQueen glory, and much has changed. Three-door cars are as hard to find as a reasoned opinion in a Wetherspoons, while small coupes are as current as a Blockbuster store.

2019 Ford Puma ST-Line

Sure, Ford could build a three-door coupe with the driving dynamics of a Fiesta ST and the same visual appeal as the original, but what would happen? Motoring journalists would dish out five-star reviews like a foodie influencer in a restaurant before a grand total of 63 people actually buy one.

A new Ford Puma coupe would fall from grace faster than a semi-finalist on The Voice.

“The world doesn’t need another bloody crossover” appears to be the most common complaint, and I have some sympathy for that argument, but here’s the thing: manufacturers are building them because YOU are buying them.

And if you’re not buying them, your neighbour is. As is your neighbour’s best mate in Cheltenham. And your neighbour’s best mate’s aunt in Widnes, etc. In a depressed market, the crossover segment continues to grow, which is why cars as unpleasant as the Vauxhall Mokka X are littering our streets.

Imagine the analysts and marketeers at Ford studying the data that says launching a small crossover would be a good idea, only to unveil a three-door coupe. That would be like Apple turning its back on smartphones and launching a fax machine (ask your parents).

Here’s one they made earlier

Not the new Ford Puma

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much a fan of the original Ford Puma as the next internet commenter. I bought one new in 2001, before trading it in for a Racing Puma less than a year later. Some of my most memorable drive involve a Puma – it deserves the hype.

But rather than sully the great name, I think Ford has struck gold. Some of the new car’s target market were still wearing disposable Pampers in 1997, so they won’t carry the INTERNET RAGE baggage of others. For others, the name will have a whiff of nostalgia.

And we know what Ford + nostalgia equals: ££££££££££s.

2019 Ford Puma ST-Line

I also happen to love the look of the new Puma. In ST-Line spec, it manages to pull off the coupe-crossover thing far better than BMW or Mercedes, and I like the subtle nods to the original.

Heck, it even has a cheerful face, like some kind of Happy Eater and Pacman crossover. In profile, the Puma looks compact, well proportioned and almost alluring. And if it drives as well as the Fiesta and Focus, it’ll be a welcome addition to a segment filled with too many makeweights.

I know list prices are irrelevant in this age of PCP deals, but it looks like excellent value, especially given the level of standard spec. And if people buy this and not the horrifically mediocre EcoSport, that’s another positive.

‘A number of directions all in one go’

Look, if the original Puma means that much to you, go out and buy one. They cost about the same as a deposit on a PCP deal and will leave you grinning like a trio of middle-aged Top Gear presenters.

You can even have some fun repairing the rear wheel arches before the next MOT.

On the another hand, if you’re desperate to own a fast, frantic and frenetic three-door Ford that’s based on the Fiesta, you’re left with one glorious option: the Ford Fiesta ST.

Sorted.

Salesman to be reunited with the first Ford Mustang sold

First Ford Mustang in 1965

The Ford Mustang started its journey as a breakout hit with one man and one car. Harry Phillips is the man behind the sale of the first Mustang to be sold. He did the deal at George G.R. Parsons Ford in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1964.

It was bought by an airline pilot by the name of Stanley Tucker, pictured above with Mustang #1. 

Now, the Henry Ford Museum is set to host these old chums as they reunite, 55 years after the car was accidentally sold. The car was a pre-production convertible that wasn’t earmarked for sale, but it’s the one with the very first Mustang serial number. A very similar car is pictured here.

First Mustang sold reunited with salesman

Despite its crooked panels and dodgy details befitting a ‘practice car’, Phillips reckons it was an easy sale. Given that Tucker exclaimed “it’s mine” as soon as he clapped eyes on it, we’re inclined to believe him.

As above, the car wasn’t really supposed to be sold. Tucker made his decision three days before the Mustang was officially supposed to go on sale. To secure his car, he made a deal with the dealer to allow the car to stay on display. 

First Mustang sold reunited with salesman

“We moved the car into the showroom that day,” Phillips said. 

“He came in every day to check it out and make sure no one did anything to it.”

Though Harry Phillips enjoyed a long life of selling cars after his blunder sale in 1964, he’s never actually seen the car since. That’s because Ford got it back not long after.

First Mustang sold reunited with salesman

Two years after buying the car, Tucker finally had his prized prototype Mustang taken from his grasp by Ford. The company swapped his, the very first Mustang sold, with 10,000 miles on the clock, for the one-millionth.

Finally, the prototype and the salesman will be reunited, 55 years after the unofficial start of one of the great car sales success stories in history.